tv Matter of Fact With Fernando Espuelas NBC February 21, 2016 10:00am-10:30am EST
have grown with me at this company. if would affect them immensely. jobs for florida. the new seminole compact. >> today on "matter of fact," immigration and obamacare. >> we could have really a perfect storm of some of these social issues in particular. >> will the "supreme" arguments determine a presidential winner? and -- campaign "dark money." fernando: how can we know if a candidate is effectively being bought? >> are mystery donors destroying democracy? plus -- [crowd chanting "bernie!"] >> hillary! hillary! >> the battle for the soul of
then, a penalty for prayer breaks on the production line? >> i' ve never heard of a company not allowing its employees to pray five minutes. >> conflicts over religion on the job. welcome to "matter of fact." i' m fernando espuelas. the presidential campaign among republicans has gone into full attack mode -- against the man they say is a lame duck, president barack obama. republicans could mount an effort to stop any nominee he proposes for the supreme court. it' s the political fallout from the death of justice antonin scalia. politico' s chief investigative reporter ken vogel knows the risks and rewards of the various strategies. ken, welcome. ken: great to be with you. fernando: thank you so much. so how is the scalia replacement process, the nomination of a new
political system? ken: well, the supreme court has always been a top issue for the bases of the respective party, that is when presidential candidates, or senate candidates are running, they often use it to motivate their hardest core activists who are most cornered about either social issues or other lightning rod issues that are really often the purview of the base. however, in this situation, scalia' s death has really made the supreme court a much broader issue that a lot of people are paying attention to that sort of sweeps the full electorate and you see campaigns actually advertising. ted cruz' s campaign has put up ads that invoke the supreme court vacancy as a reason to vote for ted cruz. i think that' s unusual. it elevates the supreme court to be even more important than it already was in our politics. fernando: so you' re thinking this is an issue that will be dominant to a certain extent? one of the dominant issues? ken: i think it will continue to be, particularly while the
nominating someone or already nominated someone and it becomes a big fight in the us senate. i think those two things tend to play off each other in a way that we could have really a perfect storm of some of these social issues, in particular abortion rights, gay rights. that could really rise to the fore even more than they already would in a presidential election. fernando: and, of course, we' re not just electing a president, we' re electing many senators across the country, several of which are republicans running in states that have been won by president obama. so how does this issue impact their races? ken: it will be huge in those states. wisconsin is a good example. senator ron johnson, a real social conservative, also a fiscal conservative, is being challenged by russ feingold, the former senator, a real liberal on social, fiscal issues. so, i think we could really see the supreme court become potentially a liability for republican candidates in those purple states because it will force them to own some of these
stances on social issues that may not be as appealing to that narrow slice of swing voters who are so critical in determining the outcome of statewide elections as it is, as those issues are appealing to the base of the republican party or the democratic party, respectively. fernando: how does this impact either the sanders or the clinton campaign? is it something they can use to motivate? ken: well, we' ve certainly seen both bernie sanders and hillary clinton try to use it to speak to their base on issues that are sort of already important, already core to their campaign. so, for instance, bernie sanders has really used it to invoke citizens united, the supreme court 2010 decision that really opened up floodgates for this explosion of unlimited spending by corporations, individuals, and unions in politics, the super pacs that he inveighs against. hillary clinton has talked about it as so critical for choice, for abortion rights, an issue that she has really owned and
political persona. but i don' t think the divide is quite as extreme as it is on the republican side and i don' t think that it is as potentially problematic as an issue for democrats as it is for republicans. it' s really on the democratic side sort of more about rallying the base in the way that it has always been. on the republican side, in the general election it could really become a potential lighting rod issue. fernando: let' s look a little bit closer. super tuesday is coming up. many states will be selecting their nominee for both parties what are you seeing? what' s going to happen? what do you think? ken: well, traditionally super tuesday has been that first real test of a national campaign of the ability of a candidate to speak to a national audience beyond some of these core, and sort of narrow, and quirky states that decide that vote in the early primary process. iowa, new hampshire, south carolina, nevada. those states you can really focus on and get on the ground
a campaign that doesn' t necessarily require the same type of vast infrastructure, the same type of money that is required to put up advertising in a range of states across the whole country that have some expensive media markets in them. that' s what super tuesday is. from early on there was some thought that even if donald trump does well, super tuesday will be the point at which the air is let out of his balloon because he doesn' t have a traditional campaign infrastructure. i think that reasoning has been turned on its head as we see donald trump doing so well even in without a traditional campaign infrastructure. fernando: well, ken, thank you so much for joining me. ken: it was a pleasure. fernando: in 2012, mitt romney defeated barack obama by almost eleven points in south carolina. the state is expected remain in the win column for republicans this november. >> coming up, super sized spending. >> i think it has perverted democracy.
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your home and here's the best part... you still own your home. take control of your retirement today! fernando: you' ve seen the campaign ads paid for by super pacs. financed with corporate money and money from individuals that is nearly impossible to track. by law the political action committees are supposed to be independent of the candidates. but it' s hard to tell when those donating can keep their gifts secret. correspondent jennifer davis takes a closer look at the explosion of super pacs. jennifer: if the road to the white house is paved by votes, the trip there is powered, at least in part, by money. you can' t run a presidential campaign without serious cash,
political action committee. they represent an interest or group like the nra or a labor union, and they raise money from members and spend it lobbying for their shared cause by trying to get candidates in or out of office. for years, there were limits on what could be collected and spent. but the rules changed after court decisions in 2010 that essentially supersized pacs. now "super pac' s" can raise and spend as much as they want on ads and other types of messaging into the millions and beyond. supporters say it' s a form of free speech. but lawrence noble of the campaign legal center argues "super pac' s" have perverted democracy. lawrence: we' ve now seen this explosion of super pac' s. if you are thinking of giving $100 but you hear someone has donated $100 million to a candidate' s super pac or even a million or $500,000, you have to think, where do i fit in this democracy? jennifer: still, no matter how much money is spent, noble says
the ballot box. lawrence: at the end of the day, this thing the average citizen still has is the vote. jennifer: in washington, i am jennifer davis. fernando: opensecrets.org, the -- says that more than 2,000 pac' s, spending hundreds of millions so far in this campaign cycle. executive director sheila krumholz joins me now. there are billionaires who are i' m sure that they are expecting something in return. there seems to primaries that are taking place that are choosing who will be the nominee. it must have some impact, not to lose hope, but what is the impact do you think? sheila: certainly the money does have impact. at a minimum, it keeps candidates in the race long past the point at which they might otherwise have folded up their tent. and it does mean that some
message out more broadly and often the outside groups which are supporting their campaign are using more deceitful or negative messaging. so it does change the tenor of the campaign as well, all this money. but i would say, you know, again, all of the money is perhaps not going to be as impactful as the donors hope it will be if people know who is raising and spending the money. fernando: well, let' s talk about that, because a lot of these super pac' s are set up in such a way that donors don' t have to disclose who they are. so how can we know? how can we know if a candidate is effectively being bought? sheila: it is very difficult right now for the public to understand who is behind a lot of the money and the messaging. super pac' s do have to disclose their donors, but unfortunately they may disclose just the most recent donor of the money, and
money. so it may be coming from a shell corporation, an llc, or a non-profit. fernando: so, xyz corp, somewhere in bermuda or maybe not or somewhere anyway, donates the money and you never actually know who is behind xyz. sheila: exactly, and that' s really dangerous for democracy. people will not participate and believe in the integrity of the system if they don' t, if they can' t see where the money is coming from and who is behind the messaging, because in fact it may be driven by ulterior motives that we need to understand. fernando: as a parting thought, don' t lose hope, but at the same time is there something we can do as citizens to break this cycle? sheila: well, it' s an interesting cycle. people are rallying around the cause of campaign finance reform. it' s certainly an important plank in the sanders and trump campaigns. so i think the most important thing to not cede your place at table to moneyed interests, because they would love for you to do that.
:sheila: don' t stay home vote. but don' t leave it there. you' ve got to participate and be heard in congress. make sure your representatives understand how you feel about the enforcement of these laws and disclosure in particular. fernando: sheila, thank you so much for joining me today. sheila. my pleasure. thank you. fernando: according to opensecrets.org, 52 people have disclosed donations of over one million dollars so far this year. the largest donor, robert mercer with the hedge-fund renaissance technologies, has donated over $12 million to a super pac for senator ted cruz. >> up next -- carolina on the line for democrats. what' s the key to the southern vote? >> there is a significant, dangerous income inequality gap in this country. >> then, leaving the production line to pray.
democrats, clinton picked up a key endorsement on friday. influential congressman james clyburn thr ew his support behind clinton. could it be a game changer? i caught up with him in his office in columbia. congressman, welcome to the program. well, obviously very important primary in south carolina. democratic party' s trying to select among two candidates. how do you see the primary going? what are your observations thus far? rep. clyburn: well, it' s a very close primary nationwide. i don' t think it' s quite as close here in south carolina. there' s no question that you have two very viable candidates. they are appealing to voters, certainly generationally, but i think that from what i saw this morning, it' s going to be a very brisk turnout and i hope that we
republican and democrat primaries. i think my voters are concerned about closing the income inequality gap that exists in this country. you have to be a bit touched in the head if you don' t realize that there is a significant, and i think, a dangerous income inequality gap in this country. my voters are concerned about whether programs are in place
the last wealth. the fact that so many people in so many communities -- the foundation on which wealth is built was home ownership, and when you have a destruction of the homeownership, then all of a sudden you have a recovery only being experienced by the investor class. and people who lost their homes and their wealth, and nothing is being put in place for them to retain that wealth. fernando: finally, are you under a lot of pressure from both or either the clinton or sanders campaigns to throw in your support? you are considered the most respected political leader in
what is the pressure like? rep. clyburn: it' s been intense and still taking place this morning. i' m now getting pressure from colleagues in the congress to i' ve spent the last weekend with family and friends discussing this. my wife has made it very clear to me that her friends want me to take a stand. and they want to know before what stand i' m going to take and why. and that' s where the pressure' s coming from. i can resist even my colleagues t know if i can resist my wife of 54 [laughter] fernando: alright, congressman, thank you so much for joining me today. south carolina democrats will get a chance to vote for their nominee in the primary next saturday.
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survive partisan politics? fernando: we all work alongside colleagues who hold strong religious and cultural beliefs. social media pointed us to one workplace at a wisconsin meat packing plant. it raises the question: what is a reasonable accommodation of religious practices, and when does it become undue hardship? seven somali muslim workers at the ariens plant in brillion, wisconsin have sued their employer in a conflict over religious practices. according to the company, they were fired for leaving the production line to pray. islamic practice calls for five specific prayer times each day. previously, the workers were able to leave the production
daily prayers, until the company changed its policy due to the production process. worker advocates say that' s not the case. >> these breaks that they were taking were very similar to the type of breaks that other employees were granted for using the bathroom and normally they would leave one person at a time, which meant the operation would continue until that person returned. fernando one former employee : spoke through a translator about his six months on the job. >> i remember from a very young age until now and i have never had anybody who had made it very difficult for me to pray. fernando: the company says it has employed muslim workers for the past nine years and wants to s not an isolated incident. in colorado, 150 muslim workers a cargill meat processing plant last december. the council on american-islamic relations is representing some of the fired workers in both
antonin scalia. fernando: this weekend, the country pays its respects to the late supreme court justice antonin scalia. his funeral, here in washington, offers a time for reflection on his service to country. justice scalia' s judicial philosophy is well documented. he once said, "the constitution that i interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as i prefer to call it, enduring," justice scalia' s imprint on american life is equally enduring. many hail his originalist interpretation of the law. critics see it as a guise for conservative activism.
of country and our constitution. perhaps that' s why all the arguing over whether or not the president should name a successor seems, well, un-american. the electoral process is an opportunity to vet opposing views of how the country should be governed. the constitutional process provides the framework for governance. it seems to me that out of respect for justice scalia, our elected officials should let the process for replacing him play out within that framework. after all, as he pointed out on more than one occasion, our constitution is intended to survive our politics. i' m fernando espuelas. i' ll see you next week for "matter of fact." [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy.
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